chamber awards group

Salem Chamber Honors Community Leaders

SALEM, Ohio — Eloise Traina reflected on her move to Salem 51 years ago, and how the warm and welcoming community brought her husband — a man formerly of few words — out of his shell.

“We moved to Salem, and after signing a contract for the apartment that we were moving into, I said upon leaving the office, ‘My God, our lives are going to change. These people like to talk,’” Traina said during the 76th annual Salem Area Chamber of Commerce Meeting Wednesday afternoon.

Traina was this year’s recipient of the Outstanding Citizen Award from the chamber. She accepted it on behalf of herself and her late husband, Michael, who died in June.

“I’m sure that Michael would have been very pleased to be here at the podium, and for those who knew him, he would not have been at a loss of words,” she said. “He traveled the entire length of State Street, Lincoln and other places spreading words of joy.”

Michael was not much of a talker when they first met at John Carroll University in 1966, she said, adding that she kept a list of topics to discuss on dates due to his “monosyllablic” nature. But that changed when they moved to Salem, and he began teaching at Franciscan University of Steubenville.

Michael Traina grew up in Cleveland and enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1958 and was on active duty as a combat medic until 1960. He then served in the Army Reserves for four years and the Army National Guard for two years as medic training sergeant, which prompted two honorable discharges and two commendations. While finishing up his service to his country, Traina began his educational quest. He obtained a bachelor’s degree from Kent State University in 1961 and went on to receive his master’s degree from John Carroll University in 1966.

He ventured back to Kent State University and completed his doctorate in 1970. As a professor, Traina taught at numerous colleges and universities throughout his career. He also founded the business “Motivation for Success” where he designed and implemented customized training programs in sales, marketing, time and stress management, behavioral motivation and personal development.

Michael was a member of St. Paul’s Church in Salem, lifetime member of the Knights of Columbus, co-founder of AMVETS Post 45 in Salem, a veteran advocate and public speaker.

Eloise Traina earned her bachelor’s degree from Ursuline College and received her master’s from John Carroll University and an MBA from Franciscan University. While starting her career as a teacher, she also was employed as clerk of Salem City Council and Kent State University DUI instructor.

Eloise Traina

In 1980, she was hired as education consultant at Family Recovery Center and within a year was named executive director where she currently remains.

Traina is a board member and past president of United Way of Northern Columbiana County, member of the Salem Area QUOTA Club and A.I.D. Organization in Salem, past president of Salem League of Women Voters and Salem Area Business and Professional Women, past president and member of Kent State University – Salem Campus Advisory Board, former advisory board member of the Salem YWCA and several others.

The Small Business of the Year award went to Kast Iron Soda Works co-owners Lesley and Wil Kline.

Kast Iron Soda Works opened in May 2021 with the hope of providing a place where people could meet and gather that was open in the evenings, and didn’t require much money, so that it was accessible to a large section of the population, Lesley Kline said.

“We’ve only been at this for a year and a half. So, to earn such an award at this stage of the game, it’s quite an honor for us,” she said. “It’s been such a joy to see so many people embrace this new business downtown.”

Kline thanked her staff who are the “heartbeat of Kast Iron. They have caught the vision of what we’re trying to do, which has nothing to do with soda, and they live it out for us every day.”

The Klines opened the shop to create community and give customers a chance to slow down and enjoy each other.

Lesley and Wil Kline

“We can’t fit y’all in our home, but we sure can accommodate quite a few in our shop and we’d love to see you down there, sharing our time and our space with you. And that is our pleasure and it’s a privilege to be in this community,” Wil Kline said.

The name Kast Iron is also born from the Klines’ love for people and connection, using their four daughters’ first initials, oldest to youngest — Kaitlyn, Abigail, Sydney and Tori. They paired it with “iron” to make Kast Iron as a nod to the industrial girding of the city of Salem, its history, roots, and largest industry.

The Klines have expanded their selection of both sodas and board games, have begun providing party keg rental for outside events, and are working to get a few of their staple Kast Iron sodas bottled for distribution that are currently served on tap only.

Kast Iron is a member of the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Salem Partnership. Lesley Kline is a member of the Salem Rotary Club and a 1990 graduate of Salem High School. Wil Kline is a member of the Salem Amvets, Military Officer Association of America, and Reserve Officer Association of America. They attend and are active at Greenford Christian Church.

Kast Iron has also been active with several community schools and organizations and participates in educational events.

CQL Manufacturing was recognized as the Large Business of the Year.

CQL specializes in stamping, laser and plasma cutting, fabrication, and assembly. The third generation of the Smith family is currently at the helm of the company with the fourth in training.

The company acquired Quaker Manufacturing in 2017, which Vice President of Finance Brad Smith recalls as a risk.

Brad Smith

“We had a lot of questions and concerns on whether it’s the right decision — it’s a new, unfamiliar community, will they welcome us? With all of those questions came a lot of risk,” Smith said. “We decided to move forward with the acquisition, and after a short period of time, we realized how fortunate we were to be a part of such a wonderful community.”

CQL is involved in the United Way of Northern Columbiana County and the Unlocking Potential Mentor program at Salem City Schools.

“The Salem community welcomed us with open arms. And we quickly realized that we were fortunate and now part of such a wonderful community,” Smith said. “We are excited to keep this relationship moving forward and growing together for a bigger and brighter future.”

This year’s recipient of the Non-Profit of the Year award is Nina’s Closet.

Nina’s Closet, a project of OhioCAN Change Addiction Now, began in October 2019. Brenda Hamilton, the founder of the organization, is also Columbiana County coordinator and president of OhioCAN, a nonprofit group that’s giving family members affected by drug addiction a voice and trying to bring attention to the assistance that’s available.

Lisa Usis and Brenda Hamilton

Hamilton along with volunteers, Lisa Usis and Mickey Pudder, help kinship families with clothing, personal items, toys and a shoulder to lean on.

Hamilton had an idea to have one room in the office she rented above a business downtown where she could house items for families fostering children. Word spread about the idea, and she came home one day to 15 bags of used items in front of her house.

She filled the room with items and asked God to give her a sign if she was on the right track. Later that day, a family came by with a little boy who needed a few things. The boy saw a blanket and asked Hamilton if he could have it, stating that he never had a blanket before.

“That was my sign and I opened Nina’s Closet, and I said we were going to find our way on a wing and a prayer,” she said.

Also recognized during the luncheon were this year’s winners of the Downtown Dining event, with George W. S. Hays, Chamber Foundation president, presenting awards to Ricky’s English Pub, Kast Iron Soda Works, B.B. Rooners, Ezio’s Italian Restaurant, Lib’s Market and Back Home Market and Café.

The chamber voted during the meeting for new directors for 2023: Fred Borgan, Fresh Mark Inc.; Shelby Fender, Beauty on Broadway; Lesley Kline, Kast Iron Soda Works; Sharon Schneider, Farm & Dairy; Dr. Michael Sevilla, Family Practice Center of Salem; Michelle Weekley, Kent State University at Salem & East Liverpool.

Outgoing board members recognized were Shane Franks, city of Salem Parks Department; Debbie Leggett, Dustin Huffman Memorial Scholarship; Dan Madden, Stark Memorial Funeral Home & Cremation; Jordan Roberts, Lyle Printing & Publishing; Jeff Christopher, Kent State University at Salem & East Liverpool and Kelly Ylonen, Fresh Mark, Inc.

Pictured at top, From left: Brad Smith, CQL Manufacturing; Eloise Traina; Lesley and Wil Kline, Kast Iron Soda Works; Brenda Hamilton and Lisa Usis, Nina’s Closet.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.